Deep Old Age

In an interview in Sunday’s NYTimes Book Review section, Philip Roth, now 84, says”…in just a matter of months I’ll depart old age to enter deep old age — easing ever deeper daily into the redoubtable Valley of the Shadow.…”

And that he’s astonished that he makes it to the end of each day.

Got me thinking about aging. I’ll be 83 in a few months.

Looking back, my golden years physically were ages 50-65 or so, in terms of strength/cardio/flexibility adjusted for age. A lot of this had to do with me working on fitness books — stretching, running, weight training — for 20 years, and hanging out, and stretching, running, and lifting weights with my authors. I was serious runner for 20-25 years, swam, surfed, rode bikes and went to aerobic dance classes (usually the only guy in the class).

Then as I got to age 70, things started needing repair. A lifetime of using the body.

I tell people, the good news is that you’re not yet 70, the bad news is that you will be some day. Since turning 70, I’ve had 2 shoulders and 2 knees and one wrist repaired (no metal or plastic parts) + a compound wrist fracture from skateboarding…yes, I know, I know.

There was something about turnng 80 that I relished. It’s so o-l-d. I’m still upright.

Some things I’ve learned:

Old people get weak more from lack of activity than from ticking of the clock.

I’m so interested in my work these days, I don’t get out as much as I should. BUT each time I go for a hike, or paddle, or jump under a cold waterfall, I feel invigorated, alive, inspired.

Bob Anderson says, “You never hear anyone saying, ‘I’m sorry I just worked out.’”

What I learned in those years, from those guys, was the value of staying fit.

I work on posture every time I think of it. If I see as person with good or bad posture, it’s a reminder. Shoulders back, down, relax.

If you don’t use it, you are gonna lose it fer shure.

So this is a reminder to myself to get my ass away from the keyboard more often. Mind and body are not separate entities.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

9 Responses to Deep Old Age

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Working out and moving around is essential and fun. Learning something new is part of the picture. Another way to say this could be something like: you need to be actively alive to be alive. Maybe 😉

  2. Lloyd,
    you eat so healthy/have such a healthy life/contribute so much to your online community, I suspect you will easily live past 105. From folks I've seen/read about, the ones who do, have many interests outside of their "selves"…Your publishing/your friends/your family/your life in general all supports that.

    I have friends who are 96 and 98, and still pretty mobile, and mostly doing everything themselves. The 98 yr old woman, (in the past year or so) had some type of vertebrae surgery, and when her son arranged "help" for house cleaning after she sent them "packing"…She does it herself…

    I am glad to have had your blog suggested to me, and to be part of your online community.

  3. Daniel Ellsberg is 86
    What do you like to do on the weekends?

    I’m a big moviegoer, and I also like to go body surfing at Stinson Beach.

    And driving out to Stinson Beach in my Miata with the top down through the redwood trees is always an awesome experience.

    What is your personal doomsday scenario?

    There really are the two existential dangers to our species on a large scale. The climate we’re at least aware of, not that we’re acting effectively or appropriately on that at all. But people have come to believe that the nuclear danger disappeared with the Cold War. Unfortunately, it didn’t. Eighty percent of the weapons were dismantled. The thousands that remain are far more than enough to cause near-extinction.

  4. Woody Brown was an idol when i joined Waikiki Surf Club in 1947, and a friend/inspiration on Maui until he died age 96, surfing until the end of his life, rode his bicycle in Kahului to volunteer at Hale Makua. Never smoked or drank, CO during WW2 on Maui when he surfed with John Kelly (not a CO, was training Frogmen for invasion of Japan) and Don Uchimura (still kickin I think but quietly, he is a Witness). Woody is famous for his invention of catamaran, his glider piloting, and was the first to put a fin on a surfboard.
    Doc Ball died at 94, was a pioneer California surfer (with Tom Blake), rode his skateboard until near the end.

  5. I'll be 77 this month and have had a marvelous life. Still living it. Interests range from working in my shop building instruments and kitchen things…on on in there. Totally love sewing, and have just acquired an antique big loom and I'll be climbing up stairs more because of it….but need to exercise more…thanks for this post…I needed to read this!! aloha, irene

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